Gig Review – Dodgy – Jamm Brixton -25th April 2015.

Gig Review – Dodgy – Jamm Brixton -25th April 2015.

After a brief afternoon mission seconded to Mi5 with KiB and BnS, we made our way to Spain for Tapas. At Victoria they went North whilst EiTC went South.

Arriving in Brixton, taking a chance upon following a meandering trail which lead directly to the establishment known as Jamm, where, as luck would have it, they had pineapple in stock and also, Dodgy were performing too!


A path opened up to the front of the stage where support band Sisteray were witnessed delivering a set of energetic rocky pop (with just a hint of Buzzcocks to these ears). Ones to watch out for!


Then Dodgy took to the stage much to the delight of the audience, starting proceedings with a super – If You’re Thinking of Me. They quickly settled in and proceeded to deliver a set comprised of a mix of old, recent and new songs.


Up next a highly atmospheric What Became Of You? Into a stonking In A Room, then the brilliantly psychedelic Ain’t No Longer Asking. Nigel announced that they were going to give us three new songs tonight and kicked off with the first – Where Shall I Begin? Another question next, with the sweet finger picking and harmonies of Did It Have To Be This Way?


It’s interesting to note the consistency of Dodgy’s material and how well they deliver this live; always a strong emphasis on the melody, with great interplay and contrast between the acoustic and electric guitars, underpinned by Mathew’s solid and expressive drums and a steady bass, all topped with their impressive vocal harmonies.


More new stuff with the heavier and rocking You Give Drugs A Bad Name (a possible working title for their new album). Then back to 94 for a slick So Let Me Go Far.


Leading us up to the hits; Staying Out For The Summer and (you only need one song… we’ve got hundreds of songs!…) – Good Enough.

And then they were gone…

But of course the crowd were baying for more…

And they came back with the great pop of Only A Heartbeat. A cover next with Van Morrison’s Stoned Me. An impromptu instrument change with Andy taking over bass duties while Bassist Stu traversed the stage to concentrate on harmonica as they finished with a fabulous rendition of Homegrown in honour of the dedicated pair of fans who’d made it down from Glasgow for the show tonight.

Well Dodgy innit!? Super-duper in fact!



Gig Review – Adam Ant – Sub 89 Reading 11th April 2015.

Gig Review – Adam Ant – Sub 89 Reading 11th April 2015.

Adam Ant plays Dirk Wears White Sox.

A Rendezvous was made with SiB and FdN as we made journey by Flower-powered Antler-Infusion Sugar-Tong Pumpkin Drive to Reading in April of the year 2015, where we encountered Ravenette at a local watering hole.

Travelling via India for reasons nutritional, we suddenly found ourselves in a local club – Sub 89, where several colonies of Ants were gathered for an Audience with The King Ant – Adam himself.

AA Z Met

And soon their audience was granted, as Adam and his band fired up in to Car Trouble Pts 1 and 2 and proceeded to take us through the whole of the Dirk Wears White Sox Album with an efficient, quick-fire delivery.


The sound was loud, up-front and in your face with songs like Never Trust a Man With Egg on His Face and the sublime Table Talk, sounding quite heavy, while not losing any of their subtlety. Great stuff!

In addition to the Dirk material we were treated to a whole host of dark punky goodness; ranging from early release classics like Plastic Surgery, Lady and Zerox, to a whole host of the bootleg era classics (many released as the B-sides during the hits era) like Greta X, Red Scab and Beat My Guest.


Adam appeared tightly focused at the start of the set, driving the band and concentrating on his performance. As the performance progressed he seemed to ease into it and open up to the audience more, all the while remaining in control yet radiating genuine warmth.


On the covers front there were two: Paying tribute to and name-checking former Ants; Matthew Ashman, Dave Barbarossa and Andy Warren, Adam and the band proceeded to deliver a highly atmospheric rendition of a Dave Berry number Strange Effect (one of tonight’s highlights). While at the encore the venue curfew was met with T Rex’s Get it On.

AA ZZ Asis

So the set tonight was comprised mainly of early Adam and The Ants material and the audience lapped it up. On the hit front we were treated to just the two in the first encore with rocking versions of both Kings of The Wild Frontier and Ant Music.

AA tilt

Before we knew where we were Prince Charming had left the building, Ravenette had done a bunk for the last train and FdN had slipped outside unnoticed, leaving just SiB and myself to fend off a surreal Siren and her UKIP recruitment campaign (at an Adam Ant gig! Raving Looneys more like!). Reading itself was beginning to teem with nightlife as we made our timely exit and subsequent escape.

Verdict: Adam and his band have got it in spades. Top Stuff!



Apologies for Errors and Omissions.

Thanks to Andy Miller for Time Travel!

London International Ska festival – Gig review – Steel Pulse – The Forum – 4th April 15.

Gig review – Steel Pulse perform Handsworth Revolution – The Forum Kentish Town – 4th April 2015.

Part of the London International Ska festival.
Support: Dennis Bovell Dub band.
Turntables: Pre show: DJ Oxman (Dub Vendor),
Post show: Don Letts Rebel Dread Special


Apologies for delay in transmission, after encountering a brief shower of micro-meteoroids, some made it through the shields and into the ionising chamber causing a malfunction in the random speculative induction drive. You know how it is! Anyway, here goes . . .

So the controls were set for Birmingham in 1975 . . .
But due to an input error, somehow a landing was made in London 2015. . . .
Not to worry though, for, as fortune would have it, this was exactly the place to be!
After travelling via India, eventually a path was forged to The Forum in Kentish Town . . .
Arriving slightly later than planned, at a tick before 9pm to be exact, which turned out to be just in time!

A place was easily secured front and centre, as the crowd was still filling out, allowing both excellent viewing and maximum bass absorption. The Dub Band, were on stage casually setting up their gear in a cool calm collected kind of way.

The bass capacity of The Forum’s sound system was being thoroughly tested thanks to DJ Oxman’s excellent spinning selection . . .


. . . Then, boom! Dennis Bovell and his amazing Dub Band (including Mr John Kpiaye providing the guitar licks and chops) dealt a serious bass-heavy blow firing out a slick energetic masterclass of hits and first-class dub stylings. Superb! The rapidly swelling crowd were engaged and showed their appreciation.

Soon it was time for the main attraction Steel Pulse!


Kicking off their set with the excellent Prodigal Son, the masses were immediately lapping it up, dancing and chanting along with the chorus. The whole of 1978’s Handsworth Revolution Album was played (out of track order) everyone a strong song in its own right; Ku Klux Klan, Prediction, Soldiers, Bad Man, Sound Check, Macka Splaff and Handsworth Revolution.


The sound had a marked clarity, with all players being well represented in the mix, solidly underpinned by a mighty bass, allowing Steel Pulse’s material to shine in its brilliantly understated yet masterful melodic musicality.


Following hot on the heels of HR they served up a fantastic selection of classic material including; Drug Squad, Rally Round, Steppin’ Out and many more, not a filler among them, Superb!


In addition to the flawless sound, their amazing stage presence, playful energetic interaction and on-stage antics, saw them dancing and running around the whole stage, ensuring the audience were in their palm throughout. Considering this is a band celebrating their 40th anniversary the energy was particularly impressive.


Rarely has music with a message ever sounded so sweet and uplifting.
This reviewer was Blown Away!


Up next a two hour DJ set from the legendary Don Letts . . .
. . . unfortunately mostly missed, as . . .
. . . all of a sudden the time rift made its presence felt again and there were just two minutes remaining in order to get back to the tubular travelling device in time for the last shuttle to the South. Achieving this by the exterior layer of the biting apparatus!


Then, arriving at London Bridge in the year 3000, encountering a marauding gang of Mcbusted fanatics, heading south from the O2, who had clearly had a great evening themselves, each to their own! It just goes to show the diversity a city like London has to offer. And long may it continue!


Over . . .


Apologies for errors and omissions.

Words and Photos: EiTC.

Roll up! Stranglers Gig Reviews – Two for the price of one – Glasgow . . .

As you may or may not be aware, The Stranglers partook of a sellout tour across the UK during March of 2015 winding up in Glasgow for the finale on 28th March.

Here for your delectaton, entertainment and delight is a brace of reviews . . .

First up – Maria Meli gives her account of the tour closer . . .

Strangled Weegie Night Out

Rituals give people stability and comfort and can be cleansing. They also offer a sense of community. Such was the case with March On, The Stranglers’ 2015 UK tour. The band tours the United Kingdom each March, this year culminating in Glasgow, home to lively audiences. The initiated flocked to partake of the final rite, and as with all pilgrimages, many of the faithful came from other cities.

The preamble was delivered by The Rezillos and it was a full body assault. Two mountains of speakers dominated each side of the stage, like sound canons that blasted waves into the audience. This was not for the faint of ear drum. The Rezillos kicked off with “Destination Venus” with an escape velocity to match. Singers, Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds, along with guitarist, Jim Brady, provided visual interest as they danced, scaled the amps and interacted with each other. Brady, in his cobalt helmet, was particularly animated in his guitar wielding, lifting and multi-positioning. He is a rubber action figure! They played old and new songs like “(Take Me to the) Groovy Room,” ”Nearly Human” and the classic “Top of the Pops.”


During their penultimate number, “River Deep, Mountain High” the stage was invaded by some background singers and dancers – The Stranglers in drag – all in mini-dresses, garish lipstick and blonde wigs to the amusement of the audience. Fay tried to pull guitarist, Baz Warne, to sing with her, but he slipped away and she was more successful at nabbing bassist, JJ Burnel, who was relishing his alter ego. Keyboardist, Dave Greenfield, had the biggest grin (obviously enjoying himself), and drummer, Jim Macaulay, tried to hide his shapely legs in the background.

Stranglers Sony pcs 2015 428

The Stranglers were soon on, all cleaned up and dressed as their MeninBlack personas, while sporting a new light show with a shimmering, almost serpentine screen behind them. The audience greeted them joyfully as they took the stage to the strains of the now familiar March On version of “WaltzinBlack.”

The crowd was wild, but now gone dead.
They wait to hear what comes instead.
The lights are up, the notes they tread,
unseen through fingers that pound, pluck, shred.

They unleashed a string of older and newer songs – a mix of upbeat, anvil-pounding and slower-paced tunes. The Stranglers’ sound is unmistakeable, yet it’s still as hard to define today as it was when Greenfield’s keyboard flourishes and Burnel’s bass growl made them stand out from punk and new wave’s more lumpen efforts.

Jim JJ Dave

“Four Horsemen” was dusted off and played much more compellingly than the original recording. During “Baroque Bordello,” a song Burnel considers a masterpiece, among the layerings and ripples, he lifted his heels and tapped them on the stage to punctuate the beat and pivoted on them as he slinked with his bass. A good segue into “Golden Brown”’ with Greenfield’s baroque accents, in which Warne sang, played his guitar solo, and then pulled back and crossed his arms as he made faces while the others played – his mark on the band’s hugely popular ode to heroin and possibly, a golden-skinned girlfriend. “Freedom is Insane” saw Burnel belt out the chorus like a battle cry. It’s his mantra on how Western democracy doesn’t gel with older, tribal societies. Warne smilingly announced that it was time for a pop song that went “something like this” as they launched into the cheerful strains of “Nice in Nice” about a pampered rich girl in the South of France.


At the end of the song, came a launch from female fans in the centre front, of women’s panties, followed by an answering catapult of men’s extra-large Y-front shorts. Warne and Burnel examined the offerings and read out the message written on the men’s shorts: From all the FatArsesinBlack – AKA HareminBlack. This was the answering volley’s reference to the lyrics in “Peaches” about “fat arses,” but also a reality check that middle-aged or older women are throwing panties (young groupie behaviour) that are much smaller sizes than they actually wear. It was basically, a “Who do you think you’re fooling?” statement.


After that comedic interlude, The Stranglers shot into “Norfolk Coast” for which Warne crooned, snarled and shred his guitar while a smiling Burnel karate kicked his way through the song. “I Feel Like a Wog” followed it continuing the sound onslaught, in the course of which Burnel executed two mid-air jumps! The regular set was capped off with “Lost Control,” “Curfew,” and the seven-minute “Down in the Sewer” about the cesspool that was London in the 1970s. “Sewer” won a fan poll last year as the most popular song out of forty Stranglers tunes they had to choose and rank for the Ruby anniversary. Amidst these songs, Burnel executed his lithe feline moves, Warne was spread-eagled, anchored and rocking, or doing his stamping walk. They got down for “Down in the Sewer” doing a crouching dual guitar advance, like brothers in arms. During “Curfew” they seemed to do a box step in tandem, and many times, they punctuated final notes on their instruments in the same up or down swing of their arms, like the string section in an orchestra. The two seem to exist on the same wavelength, unconsciously moving in synch – not the case with the two previous frontmen.

The cherry topping the performance was four encores including, “Go Buddy Go” a 1950s-inspired ditty Burnel wrote in his teens. Both the band and audience were sweating even before the end of the concert; a sure sign of a fun evening. As always, the band was prepared and well-rehearsed, conscientious of giving a good performance. Warne bantered with the audience and both he and Burnel bestowed smiles and nods to various audience members they recognized, giving them an extra thrill. Greenfield seemed surprisingly dry, focusing on his keyboards and saving his dexterity for arpeggios than brandy. Macaulay pounded all night with a precision and intensity that may explain his slimmer physique. Either that, or he needs to fit into a suit for his impending nuptials in September. The evening was a rousing success, full of sound and fury, signifying the gold standard for concert experience.

* * *

Elvis was there too, he had this to say . . .

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Glasgow O2 Academy 28th March 2015.

The City Slumbers . . .
Up before the dawn chorus . . .
A cab ride from South to North offers a timely reminder of her beauty.

Gliding across Waterloo Bridge,
The myriad lights from the various bridges and assorted buildings
Contrast with the still dark of the dying night and reflections from the cold, cold Thames
Providing a real treat for senses still coming to terms with being up at this ungodly hour . . .

Arriving at Euston Station in a blink,
Meeting a fellow traveller and then aboard the early train to another bejewelled city –
Glasgow, the destination for the finale of The Stranglers March On tour.

Off to a smooth start until . . .
Delays at Wigan allowing for a little more shut eye . . .
And, before not too long, crossing The Clyde into Glasgow Central Station.

Settling into a room with a view to shake off the journey
Then heading out as hunger makes its presence felt.

Sustenance in the form of Deep Fried Potatoes
Accompany the short ramble to the Thirteenth Note
To take in a pre-gig from local band The Vex.
Many familiar (in Black) faces, dotted here and there, some far from home . . .
A warm welcome, a convivial atmosphere and a fine performance.

Back to the Crystal Palace,
More friendly faces and the excitement is building,
Becoming almost tangible in anticipation of the main event!

Dusk gives way to night’s darkness . . .

Gliding across the Clyde Bridge,
The lights, while not as busy as those witnessed this morning,
Are equal in their beauty and effect.

On to the O2 Academy,
Inside where a capacity crowd buzz in anticipation of the Men in Black!
Anticipation becomes realisation;

The masses collide as one,
In a sweaty, writhing ball of worshipful adoration.
Cheering they leap,
Word-perfect they sing,
In awe of The Stranglers,
Who once more deliver the goods,
With unerring precision.


Over . . .

First Review: Words, images and video – Courtesy of Maria Meli.

Second Review: EiTC.

Guest Gig Review – The Stranglers Manchester Academy 21st March 2015

March On Manchester – Guest reviewer Maria Meli gives a first-hand account from the front line…

Few bands can claim a 40+ year longevity. The Grateful Dead, with their fiercely loyal Dead Heads, lasted only 30. The Stranglers, with The FamilyinBlack, have surpassed the life span of most marriages, including their own personal relationships, reaching a point where, in a 40-year marathon, concerts are now better attended than early years, and where older fans are passing the baton to younger ones – children, family and friends. Their audience has mushrooming demographics and these people get it; they understand the satire, they understand the socio-political commentary, the expressions of human emotions and struggle, the aggression, and they just plain revel in the sheer fun of it. Some find such kinship with their music, it is a therapeutic vehicle for them. For some, it is an addiction they cannot get enough of, resulting in the annual migrations of FamilyinBlack members to multiple concerts in various locations, both within and outside of the UK, and vice versa, fans from other countries not blessed with concert dates travelling to see them.

On March 21, a convention of FamilyinBlack and fans-at-large descended on the Manchester Academy for a special night: two opening bands and the Stranglers, with a not-so-common appearance by original drummer, Jet Black, for four songs.

First up, punk outfit The Membranes fronted by bass- playing John Robb, a Stranglers fan. In their 25 minutes, Robb barely stood still, zipping about like the photons that he sings about. He came down into the media pit and up onto the barrier, playing to the audience and interacting with them.


Next up, The Rezillos, Edinburgh’s precursors to the B-52s. The Rezillos were colourful, with the two original singers, Fay Fife (Sheilagh Hynd) and Eugene Reynolds (Alan Forbes), giving animated performances, along with helmeted guitarist, Jim Brady, a Glaswegian with the energy of a Tasmanian devil. As they exuberantly performed songs like “Life’s a Bitch” it made you think, yes, “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonight.”


Around 9:00 pm though, the lights turned down and the strains of marching and barking orders wafted through the venue, in keeping with the March On double entendre of the tour and the familiar notes of “WaltzinBlack” danced through the air. The audience hummed along as they always do. The MeninBlack kicked into “Longships” followed by “The Raven” an easy and natural pairing.

They moved up and down tempo throughout the night, all songs well-positioned in the set list. As soon as “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)” started, so did the familiar bopping and chain swaying. “Time to Die” with its characteristic four notes that remind me of a Western, provided guitarist, Baz Warne, and bassmeister, Jean-Jacques Burnel, swagger time, along with another intro sing along for the audience. Jet Black claimed his drum kit for the unique “Baroque Bordello,” the band’s trademark “Golden Brown,” upbeat “Always the Sun” complete with audience participation and altering of lyrics by Warne, and Black’s personally branded “Genetix.” Quite an achievement for a 76 year-old man.

“I’ve Been Wild” from the more recent album, Norfolk Coast, got an airing, making you think, “Yes, you have!”  The eponymous “Norfolk Coast” rumbled out from the stage, the inspiration that gave Burnel his musical mojo back after years of feeling uninspired.


This was followed closely by “I Feel Like a Wog” – a custom-made fit. Warne’s confident vocals poured out and his body anchored by the microphone as he sang and stuttered the lyrics. A pounding, powerful wall of sound came out and we were treated to a mid-air jump by Burnel. Still relevant today in a UK facing waves of immigration and politicians vowing to stem the tide. Which was succeeded by the happier, but ever observant (and appropriately relevant) “Skin Deep” – a palate cleanser. “Relentless” Warne’s tune showing he can rock as hard as Burnel, and a fan favourite, also had full-throttle stage time.


The evening was punctuated by Dave Greenfield’s weird and wonderful bass vocals and versatile keyboards. Jim Macaulay, crown prince of percussion, got an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. Chants of both “Jet Black” and “Jim Mac” could be heard.

An almost two hour well-delivered performance was topped off by three encores. “Peaches” with the traditional altering of lyrics, “Walk on By,” the cover they made their own, and “No More Heroes” which saw Burnel tease the audience banging on his bass to elicit a behemoth growl, eventually leading into the dextrous intro and the full blown sound and light show, as the crowd danced joyfully. This is another Stranglers song that hasn’t dated and is embraced by fans weary of a lack of role models. Overall, a most memorable evening.

Words/Photos/Video courtesy of Maria Meli


The Ballad of Birmingham

The Stranglers Birmingham O2 Academy – 14th March 2015.

Gig Review.

The Ballad of Birmingham

As we had done so before…
So, we did once more.
The family gathered from far and from near.
To see the Men in Black and lend them our ear.

A dark waltz heralded their arrival on stage
As if a wild beast had been freed from a cage
The crowd went wild with appreciation
Venting their pent up adulation

Longships gave to Raven and then Straigthen Out
Baz shot a grin and JJ a pout.
A full house did rock and also did rave
The majestic four horsemen was sung us by Dave

We anticipated yet
The arrival of Jet
The appearance of him
Followed the exit of Jim

The Master delivered to all and to one
Baroque Bordello, Golden Brown and Always The Sun
Finishing with a flourish of thrills, fills and licks
The boys delivered the beauteous strains of Genetix

Jet left and Jim did join us once more
And proceeded to pummel his kit through the floor
Swirling Keys, biting Tele and Growling Bass
Lit up the smile on everyone’s face

Then all was quiet but for the ears a-ring
As they gathered and posed sweaty faces a-grin
All too soon it was over and off we were led
To the pub, then for Curry, then off home to bed.

The MiB Health Spa week: A Trilogy of Gig Reviews – The Stranglers March On Tour 2015.

The MiB Health Spa week: Diagnosis, Treatment and Convalescence.

A Trilogy of Gig Reviews – The Stranglers March On Tour – Brighton, Guildford, London.

Incorporating Black Friday – Straighten Out at The Hope and Anchor.

Guest Starring – The Rezillos and The Membranes.

Spoiler Alert!

Apologies for the delay in transmission but being an active participant in The Great Review Writers Strike of 2015 rendered timely communication impossible. Now both sides have reached an amicable agreement things are slowly starting to return to normal. I had considered going back in time and transmitting before the strike had begun but the Department of Temporal  Investigation caught wind and soon put paid to that with their concerns of Anomalies and Spoilers.  So here it is…

Chapter 1 – Diagnosis.

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Brighton Dome 3rd March 2015.

SiB arrived early to accompany me to the much needed MiB Health Spa week, kicking off with a blast of the healing Salt Air of Brighton (London by The Sea Indeed!). After catching up with a few FiBs we made our way inside the spacious capacious acoustically gracious Dome. Having just awoken from hibernation the weary bones were happy to settle for a seat behind the sound engineers for tonight’s proceedings.

We were in good time to catch most of the set of Support act The Rezillos, about whom we’d heard many good things.


This turned out to be the truth! New and Old material sat side by side most comfortably in a splendid performance of fine musicianship and showmanship. And fortunately I didn’t miss the superb ‘Good Sculptures’. I’m looking forward to hearing more of The Rezillos.

fay 2

And the clock struck nine as the marching drums signalled the imminent arrival of The Men in Black. A superb Oom Pa Pa rendition of Waltzinblack followed and before we knew what had hit us the band arrived on stage and kicked off with the superbly undulating brevity of Longships (never before played live by the band if I’m not mistaken…) which of course segued into The Raven. Up next another surprise Baz donned another guitar and we were treated to the fine pop tones of Nice in Nice with JJ nailing the breathy vocal.


This is the first time I’ve caught the opening night of a Stranglers tour and the sense of uncertainty added to the magic of the proceedings. The stage set was dressed in combat webbing with a huge drape of this hanging behind the band and this was accompanied by a very effective light show. From my aforementioned vantage point both the visual and sonic aspects of The Stranglers performance tonight were spot on!

A blistering Grip next followed by I’ve Been Wild which holds its own nicely with a great vocal from Baz.

It must be said that tonight’s set contains some very brave selections/omissions. Incorporating as it does a healthy mix of crowd pleasers and hits plus a decent selection of obscurities to satisfy the more hard-core fans.

Jaw dropping time as the band break into the eerily creepy oddness that is Four Horsemen with its superb central symmetrical rhythmic arc, Dave’s wonderful vocals and the flawless rendition from all four instrumentalists.

No let up as they set to stun and launch straight into The Man They Love To Hate. Jim’s drums sound mighty on this like he’s going to thump them through the floor! Brilliant!


You’d be forgiven for thinking this was the end of the tour rather than the beginning as they sound so tight and spot on tonight. Clearly they’ve been rehearsing hard and it’s paid off!

The band delivers the modern classic Relentless then Jim exits which can mean only one thing – Jet Black joins the stage to a warm reception from the delighted masses. The brilliant Baroque Bordello is followed by uber crowd pleasers Golden Brown and Always the Sun. The Jet set is then completed by the masterpiece that is Genetix with its deliciously intertwined rhythms and melodies, another excellent Dave vocal and JJ’s exquisite bass solo.


It must be said that while the sound is excellent throughout, there is noticeable drop in volume levels for the Jet set, which is accentuated again as Jim re-joins for Time To Die and the volume appears to increase.

More pleasant surprises next with the not often aired (and magnificent) Ice. Then, I Feel Like A Wog delivered with off the scale intensity. Before the pace drops for a brace of hits – Skin Deep and Peaches.

Tonight Giants is represented solely by Time Was Once On My Side with its super ska-ified ending. Duchess then gives us our sixth title from tonight’s best represented album The Raven.

Lost Control makes way for the awesome menace of Curfew which in turn ramps up nicely for Down In The Sewer.


And they’re gone!

And they’re Back!

Walk on by is executed deftly with the ceaseless bass and drums creating the foundation for the soaring solos from Dave and Baz. Stunning!

Then No More Heroes and they’re gone!

I head off for an early night as I’m booked in for a seaweed treatment and some trepanation the following morning.


Chapter 2 – Treatment.

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Guildford G-live 5th March 2015.

So Thursday rolls around and this Spa week is really having an effect, especially the trepanning – the Demons have been purged and the recovery continues…

Up next is a day in the Surrey countryside.

I make my way to G-live Guildford and new parking regulations are in place since I was last here in 2013; the single yellow I used to park on is now a double and all nearby singles have been changed from 6pm to 9pm cut-off. I’m left with little choice but to try the venues pay and display car park, which to the relief of my purse strings, costs the princely sum of a Knicker (Five times less than NCP Brighton on Tues (I think)). All of which leaves me worrying that I’d briefed SiB that he could park on the single that’s now a double. I duly bell him and NiB (Nephew in Black) answers to say they’re driving around Guildford in ever decreasing circles, eventually they land in the centre not too far off target. In the meantime I contact Guildford Lil and inform her of our arrival. And before too long we’re all standing at the bar (after negotiating the drunken staircase) having a natter and catch up with the FiB. Further evidence of the healing power of The MiB spa week comes as Baglady comments on my apparent recovery after looking ‘Dead’ in Brighton!

We venture inside to catch The Rezillos, again locating ourselves at the rear centre near the sound desk.


The Rezillos are on form and put in a brilliant performance in spite of sound issues with sporadic feedback.


New and old material sit comfortably side by side and are received well by the crowd who are appreciative if a little pedestrian.


Again Nine o’clock rolls around and Lil and I make our way to the front to catch the MiB.

Kicking off in the same vein as Brighton the band seem bright eyed and bushy tailed, they’re up for it and the crowd is up for it! A stonking Straighten Out takes the place of Nice in Nice which is relocated to later in the set tonight (A clever change which works nicely. Allowing the set to start with more immediacy and subsequently giving more contrast/space later on).


Four Horsemen is once more stunning but the sound gremlins begin to appear during The Man They Love To Hate as JJ’s Bass echo effect is not coming through the mix.

The Master arrives for the Jet Set to much appreciation (mine included) and I note once more the apparent dip in sound levels, or maybe I am imagining this!?


After The Jet Set the Jim Set continues pretty much as last night excepting the previously noted SO/NiN shuffle and the inclusion of classic Hanging Around at the expense of Walk on By.


Guildford once again proves to be a gig of many contrasts. In fact, it’s a strange situation here tonight; as the boys continue playing for all they’re worth and interacting with the crowd, the gremlins are clearly manifesting themselves, establishing a hold on the group(s) consciousness. Concerned glances at monitors and equipment and across the stage to each other and the sound engineers begin to increase but the crowd continue to lap it up in their own polite Surrey Manner.

Eventually it’s all too much as the keyboards/monitors appear to fail completely during Down in The Sewer and the band curtail the encore with the exclusion of No More Heroes.

All in all a mixed bag of a gig with the band and crowd both up for it but the gremlins who having been fed and watered, were having none of it and eventually wrought havoc on the technology.


Chapter 3 – Convalescence.

Black Friday Part 1

Gig Review – Straighten Out – Hope and Anchor Islington 6th March 2015

Matinee performance.

My convalescence continues as I opt to head for the Sunny climes of Highbury and Islington for a Straighten Out Sauna therapy. Arriving early I meet up with SiB,  NiB and Karl. Before long I encounter Straightenout, Steeplejackinblack, badvlad, bebop, Bjorn, Buster, Bunny, Bloggs&Lou, Apollo, TBC, The Munros in Black, Mully, Guildford Lil, Kathinboots and many many more. In a trice the place is teeming and Legendary Finchley Boys the Hillier Brothers hold court while the black clad masses soak up some sunshine, nicotine and various other forms of pollution both voluntary and involuntary.

We squeeze into the tiny basement and Waltzinblack signals the arrival of Straightenout who proceed to give a knockout performance covering the whole of the X-Certs album in track order.


In addition we get some choice cuts from The Raven including Longships/The Raven, Shah Shah A Go Go (It’d be great if The Stranglers revived this one for live work too!) and Genetix.


It can’t really be overstated how fantastic it is to hear authentic MK1 Stranglers material at this legendary venue! The crowd laps it up with a conviviality and bonhomie unique to the FiB. Before we know it the band concludes this matinee performance with Tank and we file out of the black hole blinking back into the sunny London spring like afternoon. Where we enjoy a few more drinks and natters before slowly heading off in dribs and drabs for Camden/Chalk Farm.


Black Friday Part 2

Gig Review – The Stranglers – Roundhouse Camden 6th March 2015

Plus guests: The Rezillos and The Membranes.

Evening performance.

All of this Spa therapy can work up an appetite, so we head off in search of the rejuvenating nourishment known to be found at the Kebab shop next to Camden Tube station. Suitably revived we find ourselves at The Worlds End among a horde of FiB too numerous to mention!

I signal my intent to catch The Membranes set and hence the need to arrive in good time for their performance. A few of us head up Camden High St toward Chalk Farm. Also, I’ve ended up with a spare ticket to this sell-out performance and would like to find a suitable home for it before the show. We scour the nearby pubs in search for a recipient of my spare ticket but to no avail. I’m resolute that I’d rather tear it up than sell it to a tout!

I head to the Roundhouse box office to leave Antro’s ticket there for him, as he will be joining us later tonight. While there I pick up some tickets for The Damned D-day gig. I overhear a chap enquiring with the box office about returning an unwanted ticket. To which the reply was something like “sorry we can’t take any tickets back but that couple over there might be waiting to see if anyone has any spares”. Duly tipped off said chap and myself then proceed to donate our spare tickets to the wonder and surprise of this couple who have ventured ticketless from the continent (couldn’t place their accents) for tonight’s show.

We make our way inside and venture to the front  to catch The Membranes set. Drummer Rob Haynes is suitably dressed for the occasion in Jet Black Attire.

Floor Tom Rob

Having seen Goldblade a few times I was quite keen to catch The Membranes set and was not disappointed. Their dual guitar attack coupled with Rob’s skin bashing and frontman John Robb’s hyperactive stage presence (and agile bass moves) make for a very entertaining show.


I enjoyed the more atmospheric numbers immensely and definitely hope to see them again. Unfortunately time-constraints meant no chance of an encore in spite of demand and willingness.

Up next are The Rezillos who once more deliver a fine set of their trademark brand of New Wave Punky Poppiness.

eugen fay

It’s infectious and it’s hard to resist and tonight’s rapidly expanding crowd agree as the band go down a storm.

Then the time is Nine and the time is nigh…

The March On Waltzinblack heralds the arrival of The Stranglers who come on to a rapturous reception from the capacity crowd and they don’t miss a beat. Having shrugged off the Gremlins from the previous night, tonight’s sound is brilliant, the best I’ve ever heard in The Roundhouse!


Through Longships and The Raven, on to Straighten Out, Grip and I’ve Been Wild the set builds then gives way to the superb Four Horsemen and The Man They Love To Hate which is followed up by Relentless.

Then it’s the Jet Set with Baroque Bordello, Golden Brown (which affords me a little boogie with Ravenette), Always The Sun and Genetix rounding out tonights Masterclass. Again with perceived volume drop!


Baz announces Jet has gone off for a cup of Cocoa and it’s back to the Jim Set with Time To Die. A guitar change for Baz for Nice in Nice then back to the Tele for the sublime Ice. The crowd laps up an energetic I Fell Like a Log (wf) and they keep lapping for Skin Deep and Peaches. Time Was Once on My Side is once more the only song representing Giants, while Lost Control is tonight’s second offering from Norfolk Coast.

A brace of menacing classics round out the main set in the shape of Curfew and Down in The Sewer both deftly delivered and razor sharp.


After the crowd holler, whoop and whistle their appreciation the band return for an encore consisting of Nice and Sleazy and Hanging Around (Cue Bazzainblack going over the top…).


A brief respite and they’re back for a second encore and the final number of the night as the whole house responds to No More Heroes.


And it’s all over.

What a superb week!

If you find that the pressures of modern living become over-burdensome or are tired and run down or if you just fancy treating yourself – Do yourself a favour and go along to one of the patented MiB Health Spa Weeks.

It’ll do you the world of good!

Available from all good retailers.

Get ‘em while the getting’s good!


Apologies for Errors and Omissions.

Photography Courtesy of Andy Miller

Rob Haynes Photo – EiTC.